If the blog could speak, you’d hear that in a four-letter-word tone of voice.

Granted, housecleaning works on a sliding scale for me – some jobs are simply more onerous than others (oooohhh, points for vocabulary) – but I can’t say I dance with joy around my house as I clean.  As a matter of fact, it’s pretty safe to say they’ll never cast me in one of those commercials, smiling gleefully as I swish my Swiffer around the room.

If I lived alone this wouldn’t be a problem, but I live with two small humans who leave a wake of destruction that would rival, well, hurricane Gracie.  And I can’t exactly claim to be the neatest person in the world.  Plus there are two dogs wrecking their own havoc.  ‘Nuff said.

Grownup expectations in our house complicate this issue further.  Specifically, the different interpretations BrightSide and I have when it comes to household cleanliness.

Disclaimer:  I’d like to point out that I am in no way stating one perspective is better than another here.  Rather that at the most basic level – almost a molecular one, really – BrightSide and I have divergent concepts of what “clean” looks like.

I subscribe to the You Can Safely Eat in Our Home perspective, which basically means things in the house are clean enough.  These’s no super scary stuff like mold or critters or unidentifiable substances on the kitchen counters and the bathrooms are decent.  Is it a little dusty?  Yep.  Is there usually dog hair lying around?  Well, yes, but sadly that would be the case even if I vacuumed two hours before you arrived.  Could you call it spotless by any stretch of the imagination?  No, definitely not.  But you could safely eat here.

Unfortunately, my perspective applies to day-to-day living for my family and me.  Which means if someone stops by and sees piles of laundry being folded on my coffee table, I’m slightly appalled.  Plus if company is coming over?  (And yes, “company” does include family and friends no matter how many times you tell me you don’t care what my house looks like.)  This kicks off a cleaning marathon that burns roughly the same amount of calories as three Zumba classes.

As for BrightSide?  Well, he has a very different concept of household cleanliness.  He subscribes to the Clutter Free and Shiny perspective, which involves the absence of any ongoing projects (i.e. laundry I haven’t folded for three days) and actual cleaning daily.  In his perfect world, he’d walk through the door to a house that looks, feels, and even smells clean.

BrightSide and I are lifers – coming up in June we’ll have been married 21 years, and I dare say the vast majority of that time has been spent living under the You Can Safely Eat in Our Home philosophy.  Not because we agreed on it but because my sporadic attempts to convert to Clutter Free and Shiny were pathetic and typically short-lived.

So just doing some rough math here…there were two years when a wonderful cleaning lady helped keep things from getting out of hand, and over the course of our marriage I probably buckled down on Shiny tidying weeks myself for about two more years.  This means that for approximately 17 years BrightSide has been tolerating what feels to him like perpetual chaos.

This may qualify him for sainthood.  Then again, he hasn’t exactly been living in squalor and there’s all the other give and take in marriage.  But whatever.

My point is this: we have spent many, many years trying to work out a compromise on this. Him trying to accept my cleanliness levels, me trying to meet his, neither of us being truly successful.  The house simply…was.

But now – let the choir of angels sing – we once again have a wonderful woman helping keep the house clean.  You can always tell the days she’s been here, too, because after work BrightSide stops inside the door, sniffs the air, and sighs in contentment.

It makes us both wonder…what on earth took us so long?  As far as sanity saving maneuvers go, this one ranks right up there with Quiet Time and headphones for the iPods.